When I do my job right, it looks easy
Senior Behaviour Programmer
What was your dream job as a kid?
I’ve always been passionate about video games so I’m truly living it. My father once told me that when I was 3 years old and playing on Intellevision (our first console), he heard me say in a childish angry voice “If I had made this game, it would be better!”
If I say, tell us about you. Where would you begin?
With my passion for video games.
Why the gaming industry? Tell us about the path that brought you here.
I was lucky enough to finish my studies in computer sciences at a time where many video games studios were opening in Montreal. I first worked at Microids on games such as Syberia and Fort Boyard, and then I moved on to various small studios so that I could broaden my skills and knowledge in programming.
And then, one day, I played Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time… Following this, I had a firm intention of meeting the creators of the game and hopefully work with them. So I applied for a position at Ubisoft and got hired! I first worked on a Star Wars game for the new Nintendo DS but it was only a few months later that the original team from Prince of Persia recruited me for their new game, Assassin’s Creed. That was it. I got to meet Patrice, Alex and many other talented individuals. For the next 3 years, I worked on developing the combat animation system, some navigation behaviours as well as some new underlying tech that allowed many programmers to work on the same character at the same time.
And then I got tired of working in big teams (which was nothing back then, only a hundred people or so!) so I quit the game industry and went on to create animation tech for movies, which eventually became xtranormal.com.
Finally, a few years ago, a new scene made its appearance in Montreal: independent video games. Smaller teams creating smaller but original games. After a few years working as a consultant for a few indie studios, I joined Patrice and Alex at Panache to start our Ancestors odyssey.
What is your role at Panache?
I’m what we call a Behaviour Programmer. This means I write codes that make the characters move; I have to translate the player’s intention (from the controller) into the character’s movement. Consequently, I also work on the camera.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your job?
I have several responsibilities, but my biggest challenge is to translate high-level design intentions (“climbing in trees”) into concrete production, while taking into account all involved aspects and elements: c++ code, math, physics, animation, level design, platform constraints, engine constraints and, most important of all, the fun factor. I feel like only few people understand the complexity of the job. Basically, when I do my job right, it looks easy. When I don’t, it doesn’t feel like a video game at all.
What is it about video games that you like?
I love being immersed into another world as well as the cohesion between the different game components. A good example of this is Portal. In my opinion, this game is quasi perfect because every single component is relevant to the game experience.
What are your favorite games of all time?
Zelda: A Link to the Past
Saints Row 3
Left 4 Dead 2
Other than video games, what are your interests?
Sci-fi literature, electro music and great TV series.
If you could meet any living or dead personality, who would you choose? Name 2 and tell us why.
Trent Reznor for the major influence he had on my appreciation of the digital era through his music and interviews.
Philip K. Dick because I’d love to understand how he came to be such a visionary.
If you had to write your autobiography today, what would its title be?
Life of a Coder
If you could have a super power, which one would you choose?
To be able to stay calm no matter the situation!
And now, loose questions:
My mom’s meat pie
Favorite places in Montreal?
La Touche Café, the Old Port and parc Lafontaine.
How do you like your coffee?
Black and bitter
A beautiful black and white picture of a squirrel.
Your favorite time of the week at the office?
The Friday Game Review where we can see all the work that has been done on the game over the week.
Who had the most influence on you professionally?
A certain Richard Dumas who made me realize (through his work on Assassin’s Creed) that as a programmer “Nothing is real. Everything is permitted.”
And Devine Lu Linvega, aka Aliceffekt, aka Neauoire, who showed me that it is possible to live by this principle.
The best tip you were ever given?